One of the reasons I wanted a full frame camera was to be able to capture photos of the Milky Way. What I didn’t realize was how hard and how time consuming it could be to actually make these photos. I know I was thinking the same thing, “Don’t you just put your camera on a tripod and trip the shutter?”. As with everything, shooting great photos requires work, time, and patience.
I was fortunate to learn about a great instructor and a workshop at Fort Griffin in Albany Texas by Mike Mezeul (http://www.mikemezphotography.com) and in one evening I learned how to shoot the stars and how much work it takes to come away with just a few images. Mike quickly set expectations and explained that the goal for the evening was about 8 images. Hmm… not a lot of images for being out here all night.
We arrived at Fort Griffin at 7pm and the first shot captured of the sunset over the old General Store was at 8:37pm. After that first shot we chilled out waiting for the Milky Way to grace us with its presence. This is probably the hardest part of astrophotography, waiting. The Milky Way shows up more horizontal at first and finally the first images were taken at 12:03am. We spent a solid hour just working on getting the light painting right.
The trick is just getting a little light on the structures and landscape for just a few seconds. It takes several attempts to get just the right amount of light on the scene. The sensor is so sensitive that too much light makes the scene look fake and way over exposed. An hour goes by and while we’ve taken several shots we have one finished image to show for it.
Throughout the evening the Milky Way continues to rise and become more vertical over us yielding some of the best images of the evening. The sweet spot this evening for images was between 1:34am and 3:17pm. Finally, at 3:30am we packed up and crawled in our cars for a few hours of shut eye before heading home. This is the latest this guy has stayed up in a long long long time! Heading out of the site I stopped to grab my favorite image of the evening, the Lion King tree with sunrise happening behind it. Last shot 6:32am! What an evening of taking pictures.
I’d urge you to check out Mike’s other workshops at his website. It was a great informative evening with some beautiful images as a result.
Thanks Mike Mezeul!
You can see my pictures from the evening at https://www.facebook.com/PhotogbyMike-1756790777899074/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1761675294077289.